Tired of sifting through the fish-nun memes on Damon Lindelofs personal Instagram for clues about his upcoming HBO series, Watchmen—an adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbonss classic comic? Here you go: HBO has just debuted a new Instagram account, dedicated entirely to the show. (No fish nuns allowed.) The account kicked off Monday, with what we might call the first “official” image from the series. And though the words may be familiar, the image is a real head-scratcher.
Usually when comic-book properties such as this debut a “first look,” its a familiar character or item—one meant to both whet the appetite of newcomers and tickle the fancy of die-hard fans. The Watchmen comic certainly has plenty of this sort of iconography to draw on, whether its the Comedians mask and cigar, Rorschachs splotchy mask, or Dr. Manhattans blue . . . everything. Zack Snyder leaned heavily on all these images for his 2009 film adaptation of Watchmen. But Lindelofs show has instead opted for a police officer in a yellow mask, rather than something fans of the previous film or comic book will recognize. Instead, the image invokes the book, employing both a Rorschach-esque mask and a pop of bright yellow, as seen on the graphic novels cover and on Silk Spectres memorable costume.
This HBO image feels instantly iconic, even though it has no roots in the comic book—and that bodes well for what Lindelof has planned, which is a very loose adaptation indeed. At New York Comic Con this month, artist Dave Gibbons praised Lindelof while explaining that this new series wont retell the narrative of the original book, which was already covered in Snyders adaptation. Instead, this version of Watchmen takes place in an alternate history, using the bones of the original to guide the story along. As Gibbons said: “The original is something that we always saw as standing alone, and it never in our mind required prequels or sequels or homages or pastiches or anything like that. It isnt that we thought it should be treated with great reverence, its just that we thought: if youve done something right just leave it alone.”
Still, Gibbons added, Lindelof has captured the spirit of his original book—which was already set in an alternate version of our recent American history. “Whats happening with the TV version is it presents yet another variation. And while Ive only read the screenplay—and I cant speak to the tone or the way the things been shot—Id say the reality it inhabits is one that feels quite authentic. Its not here, its not now, its something slightly sideways.”
Whats sideways of Rorschachs mask and Silk Spectres yellow costume? Why, that police officers look, I suppose. Maybe future imagery will actually feature the stacked cast of Watchmen, which includes Regina King, Jeremy Irons, Don Johnson, Tim Blake Nelson, Louis Gossett Jr., Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Andrew Howard, Tom Mison, Frances Fisher, Jacob Ming-Trent, Sara Vickers, and Dylan Schombing. The series does not yet have a release date.
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